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Monday, September 10, 2012

Mailvox: an uneven match

George: In the end, adherence to divine command theory is the province of lazy minds.

So, in the one corner, we have the irrepressible George as well as the snowflake moralist, INTJ. In the other, we have William of Ockham, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, John Calvin, Immanuel Kant (arguably), and bringing up the rear, Vox Day.

I certainly don't mind finding myself in the company of such "lazy minds".

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127 Comments:

Anonymous darrenl September 10, 2012 9:33 AM  

"In the end, adherence to divine command theory is the province of lazy minds."

I find that statement to be quite lazy and terribly unconvincing.

Anonymous Heh September 10, 2012 9:44 AM  

Cue the incessant babble about irrational, primitive belief in imaginary sky gods...

Blogger Markku September 10, 2012 9:49 AM  

Sometimes the answer just is simple. It is a simplistic approach to think that only complex answers are true.

(Complex usually meaning, "I will babble so long that I confuse even myself, and then I can believe anything I want".)

Anonymous Josh September 10, 2012 9:50 AM  

George also has Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

Oh wait, that doesn't help his case.

Blogger Nate September 10, 2012 9:57 AM  

Vox... Ya left out Isaac Newton.

Anonymous VryeDenker September 10, 2012 10:01 AM  

"Complex" usually means you either don't understand what you're talking about, you've missed something obvious or you are deliberately hiding a fallacy behind a curtain of obscurity.

Anonymous CL September 10, 2012 10:08 AM  

It's like when people say religion is "the easy way out" (LOL), whereas worshipping yourself or a tree is an arduous task. Then again, putting one's head up one's own arse isn't easy, to be fair.

Blogger crazyivan498 September 10, 2012 10:10 AM  

Kant was an idiot

Blogger crazyivan498 September 10, 2012 10:10 AM  

Kant was an idiot

Anonymous willneverpostagain September 10, 2012 10:12 AM  

Yes, George, because sacrificing your own needs to meet the needs of others, as Christianity teaches, is a lazy thing to do.

Anonymous praetorian September 10, 2012 10:12 AM  

What happened to the immigration article? Showed up in my RSS feed, but it isn't on the site?

Anonymous JP (real one) September 10, 2012 10:13 AM  

If this site was divided into weight classes, George wouldn't even be able to compete with the flyweights.

Anonymous Josh September 10, 2012 10:18 AM  

Then again, putting one's head up one's own arse isn't easy, to be fair.

Why else do you think they're all into yoga?

Anonymous The One September 10, 2012 10:24 AM  

Always on topic, print your own gun.

http://news.yahoo.com/you-don-t-bring-a-3d-printer-to-a-gun-fight----yet.html

Anonymous Tiger September 10, 2012 10:27 AM  

Fear, rather, that you are lumping yourself in with such overheated, anti-Biblical imaginations, Vox. Do you base your faith on personal revelation, holy scripture, or church tradition? What is the basis of your covenant with God? Without knowing that, there is no fruitful discussion to be had.

My covenant is two-fold; baptism and circumcision. What is yours? Who are you accountable to, and what Laws do you follow?

Anonymous The other skeptic September 10, 2012 10:28 AM  

Thou shall not have white institutions of any sort

Anonymous Tiger September 10, 2012 10:32 AM  

Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Kant... all were opposed to the Faith of Abraham, and spilled reams of words defending the precepts of an anti-Biblical Western civilization. Placing yourself in with them, does not speak well to your honesty.

Even the blessed John Rushdoony, recently deceased, spilled far too many words, because he had to reassure his audience that he wasn't abandoning their precious Trinity concept. 3/4 of his writings could be elided altogether. His continual need to defend the indefensible clouded all his brilliant work, but at least he spoke honestly and forthrightly about the ongoing validity and benefits of keeping the Laws of Moses. I cannot say the same for Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Those men were theological butchers, false prophets of a rationalistic age.

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 10, 2012 10:34 AM  

I see we've got a legalist come in to barf all over the thread. Color me surprised.

Anonymous Boetain September 10, 2012 10:34 AM  

Hey Vox: Calvin has a few things he needs to discuss while you are in his corner...never mind the fire wood he has gathered...just a friendly discussion...

Blogger WATYF September 10, 2012 10:49 AM  

George: In the end, adherence to divine command theory is the province of lazy minds.

As usual, an argument against Divine Command Theory relies on an emotional appeal. Once you get into raw logic, DCT is the only reasonable choice.

WATYF

Anonymous Rantor September 10, 2012 10:55 AM  

C'mon Boetain, everyone knows that Calvin didn't feel right about having the guy burned, he suggested hanging or decapitation or some such... it was the city council that said no, he must be burned.

Anonymous Tiger September 10, 2012 11:05 AM  

Ah, Mrs. Pilgrim. I see you haven't reached your destination yet.

Blogger James Dixon September 10, 2012 11:06 AM  

> My covenant is two-fold; baptism and circumcision.

Well, I guess I'm thoroughly dammned then. I fail on one of the two, and some folks figure I fail on the second. Woe is me.

Anonymous szook September 10, 2012 11:12 AM  

Why is it that when I see the name George emblazoned on a comment post on this blog the phrase "Watch out for that....tree!" (accompanied by a mean bongo beat) comes to mind.....

Blogger Rock Throwing Peasant September 10, 2012 11:17 AM  

Didn't take long to go off track. It's not what they argued, it's whether they were intellectually lazy minds.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 11:22 AM  

VD said:

"I certainly don't mind finding myself in the company of such "lazy minds"."

Wonderful.

I'll say this about those that adhere to Divine Command Theory:

They are admirable for having to determine for themselves, just like non-believers, what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral, without the aid of a god...despite what they claim.

Anonymous Yep. September 10, 2012 11:22 AM  

I see we've got a legalist come in to barf all over the thread. Color me surprised.

And then there's Mrs. Pilgrim who swings by to drop a deuce on the thread with such Vicodin-inspired originality as "Color me surprised".

Don't you have any substantive criticism?



Blogger Spacebunny September 10, 2012 11:25 AM  

George - go back to the other threads you've vomited all over and answer the questions before you comment again.

Blogger Spacebunny September 10, 2012 11:26 AM  

Don't you have any substantive criticism?


You mean like yours?

Blogger www.laurasaur.com September 10, 2012 11:32 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous JartStar September 10, 2012 11:37 AM  

without the aid of a god...despite what they claim.

I know George can't answer this question until he answers the others but I'm curious how he knows this.

Anonymous kman September 10, 2012 11:38 AM  

CL said:It's like when people say religion is "the easy way out"

That's hilarious! If you're a follower of Christ and try to live by what He taught, well... they haven't a clue as to what they're talking about.

Easy would be there is no ultimate authority, no rewards or punishments beyond this life and I simply cease to exist. I could dispense with a great many rules/commands/obligations and do want I bloody well pleased and not lose a second of sleep over it. That's easy.

Anonymous Noah B. September 10, 2012 11:39 AM  

"They are admirable for having to determine for themselves, just like non-believers, what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral, without the aid of a god...despite what they claim."

So you believe in free will now, George?

Anonymous VD September 10, 2012 11:39 AM  

Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Kant... all were opposed to the Faith of Abraham, and spilled reams of words defending the precepts of an anti-Biblical Western civilization. Placing yourself in with them, does not speak well to your honesty.

Really? How does agreeing with Thomas Aquinas on Divine Command Theory somehow imply that I am dishonest?

Anonymous Josh September 10, 2012 11:41 AM  

Western civilization is anti biblical?

Anonymous JartStar September 10, 2012 11:58 AM  

The act of dismissing religion as an “opiate for the masses” is an opiate for the dismisser.

Blogger Galt-in-Da-Box September 10, 2012 12:00 PM  

Immanuel Kant was the father of altruism that paved the way for communism & socialism - to say nothing of modern fascism.
I would never want to be lumped together with that!

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 10, 2012 12:02 PM  

Is Yep still here and still obsessed with me? How cute.

Western civilization is anti biblical?

Well, you know, bacon cheeseburgers and the Internet are the work of the devil.

Anonymous Edjamacator September 10, 2012 12:11 PM  

Sometimes the answer just is simple. It is a simplistic approach to think that only complex answers are true.

(Complex usually meaning, "I will babble so long that I confuse even myself, and then I can believe anything I want".)


The desire to ignore God is very simple, and will drive a person to think whatever they have to in order to feel "freed" from His ways. In George's case, it appeals to him to believe in complexity. Whatever floats his boat. Or should I say "anything at all that continues to keep his particular water vessel atop the body of water that he currently finds himself in?"

Blogger James Dixon September 10, 2012 12:13 PM  

> Is Yep still here and still obsessed with me? How cute.

Seems that way, yes. :)

Anonymous Tom B September 10, 2012 12:20 PM  

George: In the end, adherence to divine command theory is the province of lazy minds.


All forms of morality are based on Divine Command Theory; something must act in the "God" role as final arbiter of moral questions.In his case the very poor deity of Reason is his god, since its ability to be manipulated is very well known.

Anonymous Josh September 10, 2012 12:30 PM  

Well, you know, bacon cheeseburgers and the Internet are the work of the devil.

No, they are a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 12:33 PM  

@George

I'm trying to figure out where you derive the notion that liberty is "good" and, for that matter, exactly what you mean by liberty. For the Greeks, someone who was in a situation where they had to scrounge every day just to eat was someone who was incapable of considering the public good. Such a person, per their worldview, was not capable of rationally considering the affairs of the state, as they would be focused on using their political clout to ease their immediate situation.

The notion of political liberty is probably something that has been one of the, if not the, driving force in the rise of western civilization and modernity. This notion invested the individual in the success of the state and provided a foundation of productivity and creativity. But it is necessary to point out that "public good" is the flip side of "political liberty".

Frankly, after almost a century of both the welfare state and female suffrage it is not at all clear that females, as a group, are capable of rationally considering "the public good". The Sandra Fluke nonsense is a perfect example, where Democrats, largely through the so-called woman vote is trying to use public policy to dictate who has to pay for contraceptives. Now, in no conceivable way can contraceptives be a "public good". No, they are a private good that a large group of voters, mostly women, want provided to them via social resources.

Let me go back to a personal anecdote, involving my mother, to demonstrate my point. My mother's entire view of the world is shaped by her feelings of insecurity and of being let down by a small handful of men throughout her life, beginning with her father's death when she was three. She is incapable of abstracting herself away from her immediate personal experiences.

Now, my mother is conservative, but this is a very, very strong trend I've noted in women. If I were to put a number to it I would estimate that, at most, two to three percent of women are capable of extracting themselves from their immediate body of experience to consider "the public good".

Most men, on the other hand, can, at least, be forced to abstract from personal experience through one great tool: shaming them. I have found most women completely impervious to intellectual shaming. If you happen across a post pitting feminists and anti-feminists you will see that most feminist arguments involve nothing BUT shaming language.

So, no, it's not at all clear that political liberty for women, as a group, is a good thing.

Here's another way of looking at it: "political liberty" is a product of evolution, thus, it evolved with a particular usage, which is to provide for the public good. So, using political liberty to provide for any particular good that some bloc of voters wants is like trying to pump blood with your kidneys - the body ain't gonna last long.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 12:34 PM  

Jart wrote:

"without the aid of a god...despite what they claim.

I know George can't answer this question until he answers the others but I'm curious how he knows this."

Before making practical application of the Divine Command theory, mustn't you first determine which god is divine and which is not? Mustn't you first in some cases first determine which version of a specific divinity is the correct version? Mustn't you then apply an analytical eye to the various commands made by the divinity you've determined is true to apply some of the more general commands to moral questions not specifically addressed by the God you've chosen to follow. And mustn't you, in all of this, apply principles of your own choosing to make these determinations?

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 10, 2012 12:39 PM  

No, they are a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Josh, am I going to have to revive the old /sarc tag? I mean, I can; it just disrupts the flow of my snark.

Anonymous Bobo September 10, 2012 12:40 PM  

George: Atheists have tried their best to create ideal societies without God. Just look at the USSR, Kampuchea, Cuba, North Korea, Eastern Europe and the PRC. Just those catastrophic failures discredit your worldview. Sorry, pal.

Even if Christianity is FALSE, and I deny that it is, only an irrational person would hamper it, as it's obviously a force for good wherever it is. One has to be intellectually dishonest or ignorant to deny that.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 12:42 PM  

Bobo wrote:

"Even if Christianity is FALSE, and I deny that it is, only an irrational person would hamper it, as it's obviously a force for good wherever it is. One has to be intellectually dishonest or ignorant to deny that."

I'd argue that many parts of Christianity are, as you you say, not just a force for good, but a monumental force for good. Just not all of them.

Anonymous Heh September 10, 2012 12:43 PM  

"Just look at the USSR, Kampuchea, Cuba, North Korea, Eastern Europe and the PRC. Just those catastrophic failures discredit your worldview."

Detroit and Berkeley are enough for me.

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 12:44 PM  

@ George

Another thought. Consider the following premises:

A) Human groups and societies have always needed to address the public good to maintain group order and cohesion
B) This public good has almost been exclusively attended to by men until very very recently

If you accept these two premises then it is very likely that men have, over the past 150k years, developed a psychological architecture to deal with providing for the public good. It is also likely that women lack this architecture. Don't forget that we are talking overall fitness landscapes, here, not individual personalities.

In closing I have one most personal anecdote involving my family. I have three sisters, two of whom are smart and one who is intellectually brilliant. The latter refuses to discuss politics with women for the exact reason I give, which is that women reflexively view everything through nothing more than their immediate personal experiences.

She came to the conclusion, long before I, that women, as a group, have no business voting.

Blogger IM2L844 September 10, 2012 12:45 PM  

They are admirable for having to determine for themselves, just like non-believers, what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral, without the aid of a god...despite what they claim.

Ah, why don't you stop beating around the Socratic bush. Apparently, you are trying to invoke Euthyphro’s dilemma or am I misreading you?

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 12:47 PM  

@ George

Do you consider the state's refusal to positively endorse the sexual union of two individuals of the same sex to be a violation of personal liberty?

Anonymous JartStar September 10, 2012 12:48 PM  

George,

How do you know that that God is not influencing to various degree all of these decisions?

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 12:53 PM  

@ JartStar

How do you know that that God is not influencing to various degree all of these decisions?

And while you're at it why not just ask him to provide a number of and justification for how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Anonymous HH September 10, 2012 12:58 PM  

Since DCT depends defines moral based solely on the commands being from God... how do you know to 100% certainty that a command is from God ?

Anonymous JartStar September 10, 2012 12:58 PM  

And while you're at it why not just ask him to provide a number of and justification for how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Except that he never claimed to know that there aren't any angels on the pin, but did claim to know what is transpiring in another person's mind, more specifically that there is no divine intervention going on.

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 1:01 PM  

@ George

They are admirable for having to determine for themselves, just like non-believers, what is right and what is wrong

See, this is the problem I have with most so-called "atheists". They simply remove the notion of God and replace it with Autonomy, to put it crudely: free will. If you're an atheist then presumably you accept that everything pertaining to homo sapiens relates to the causal mechanism of evolution. If you want to claim Autonomy then you're going to have to explain how Necessity produced Autonomy.

As Nietzsche asked: how can something produce its opposite.

No, people don't decide for themselves what is right and wrong, that is a product of a combination of their genes and their environment, which is, itself, a product of prior genetic influence.

Anonymous JartStar September 10, 2012 1:08 PM  

Since DCT depends defines moral based solely on the commands being from God... how do you know to 100% certainty that a command is from God ?

Are you 100% certain of anything, and how did you arrive at this certainty?

Anonymous Josh September 10, 2012 1:37 PM  

Josh, am I going to have to revive the old /sarc tag? I mean, I can; it just disrupts the flow of my snark.

The sarcasm was obvious.

And snark is never good.

Anonymous Mark September 10, 2012 1:47 PM  

Johannes Kepler can be added to that list too.

Such a lazy a$$......

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 1:48 PM  

IM2LA said:

"Ah, why don't you stop beating around the Socratic bush. Apparently, you are trying to invoke Euthyphro’s dilemma or am I misreading you?"

Euthyphro is implicated in the issue of Divine Command Theory, but my contention that believers are required to determine their own ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands doesn't get us to Euthyphro.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 1:53 PM  

Asher said:

"Do you consider the state's refusal to positively endorse the sexual union of two individuals of the same sex to be a violation of personal liberty?"

It certainly doesn't rise to a similar level of liberty violation as outlawing homosexual behavior, that only relatively recently was taken off the books.

It's a violation, but a minor one compared to others.

Anonymous VD September 10, 2012 1:57 PM  

Euthyphro is implicated in the issue of Divine Command Theory, but my contention that believers are required to determine their own ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands doesn't get us to Euthyphro.

Your contention doesn't make any sense, George. A person, believer or nonbeliever, can correctly proclaim to be obeying God's commands without even believing in God or the rightness of those commands. Consider an example: God says "do not murder". Do you seriously claim that you cannot claim to have obeyed that command without first determining your own ethical principles?

The fact is that as long as you haven't murdered, you can do so.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 2:04 PM  

VD:

What must one do before determining not to murder? It seems one must first consider the implications of murder or even the meaning of murder. It may not take long, but one must first do some consideration. At that point, then they could say they are obeying God's command, whether a believer or not.

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 2:06 PM  

@ George

The state of Washington won't issue me a law license. Is that a violation of my personal liberty?

Look, you're also engaging in a nice sleigh-of-hand, which is offering categorical judgments and then sliding into practical "fudgings". If "liberty" is a categorical good then even the slightest violation of it is no worse than the worst violation. But if "liberty" is not some absolute categorical good then that implies that it is superseded by other goods at many times, places and circumstances.

Which is it? Is "liberty" some absolute, categorical good, in which case there is no difference between the state killing me for no violation of the law and the state refusing to issue me a marriage license? Or is liberty just another conditional good among many that is often superseded?

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 2:10 PM  

@ George

It seems one must first consider the implications of murder or even the meaning of murder.

The vast majority of people rarely consider the implications of anything beyond their immediate circumstances. That most people do not murder is a product of evolve instinct, activated by a general environment of social stability. Consideration/reason has nothing to do with it. The problem I run into with almost every atheist I encounter is that they want to start everything over from square one and create all human existence according to human, autonomous "reason".

This is why I frequently call myself "history's first, and probably last, atheist".

Anonymous No_Limit_Bubba™ September 10, 2012 2:11 PM  

Josh said:
And snark is never good.

*Covers ears with hands.*

Why do you keep saying that?

Also, bacon cheeseburgers may be" proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy"* and that He would like for us to come see Him sooner, rather than later.


*Often attributed to Ben Franklin about beer.

Anonymous VD September 10, 2012 2:16 PM  

What must one do before determining not to murder?

All of that is totally irrelevant to your claim. You are hung up on questions of motivation and decision when all that is relevant is historical action. Have you murdered? That is a simple yes or no question. You either have or you have not. How you answer that question determines whether you must admit to having broken the Christian God's command not to murder or if you can proclaim not having broken it.

And that is all that is necessary.

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 2:17 PM  

@ George

Situation A)

The state holds that issuing a law license to people who meet certain criteria advance a particular public interest. I don't meet the criteria, so, the state declines to issue the license. Has my liberty been violated?

Situation B)

The state holds that issuing a marriage license to people who meet certain criteria advance a particular public interest. I don't meet the criteria, so, the state declines to issue the license. Has my liberty been violated?

How are these any different? I mean you are welcome to advocate a change in criteria but that is an issue of public interest and not individual liberty, right? If wrong, shouldn't the state just be required to issue a law license to anyone who wants it? Or is it that marriage is no longer about advancing the public interest? And, if not, why is the state involved, at all?

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 2:30 PM  

VD:

Motivation has everything to do with it. Why does Divine Command theory matter to the believer? Why does a self-imposed prohibition on murder by a non-believer matter?

My claim is simple: one must make some sort of principle determination before murdering or not murdering. This is unquestionably true.

Is there no process at that comes in advance of obeying God's commands? Of course there is. There is no denying that believers must have determined some ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands. Something got them to the point of obeying God's command.

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 10, 2012 2:31 PM  

And snark is never good.

Bite your tongue.

And a bacon cheeseburger, while you're at it.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 2:34 PM  

Asher wrote:

"The state holds that issuing a law license to people who meet certain criteria advance a particular public interest. I don't meet the criteria, so, the state declines to issue the license. Has my liberty been violated?"

Yes, but in a trivial way. What's important is that the criteria apply to all equally. That is to say, your ability to acquire a license is not in any legal or statutory way hindered more than the next persons.

Anonymous Asher September 10, 2012 2:48 PM  

The criteria for marriage already does apply equally - you are allowed to marry a consenting member of the opposite sex.

Sex is an objective and measurable criterion. Love, on the other hand, is manifestly not measurable and objective. Basing state marital policy on love is involving the state in rainbows and unicorns, so, now you're basing state policy decisions on something as fleeing as twelve year-old girl infatuation.

That's just great.

The state issues a marriage license to any two people who are of age, of the opposite sex and consent. How is that not equal and objective?

Shouldn't state policy be based on things objective and measurable rather than subjective and "felt"?

Blogger IM2L844 September 10, 2012 2:53 PM  

There is no denying that believers must have determined some ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands.

The reason ethical principles exist at all is because the concept of right and wrong is made inherently available in God's creation through the faculty of moral intuition. Given man's natural tendency toward capriciousness, if morality was fundamentally arbitrary, it would have remained forever incoherent.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 2:56 PM  

Asher said:

"The criteria for marriage already does apply equally - you are allowed to marry a consenting member of the opposite sex."

True.


"Sex is an objective and measurable criterion"

So is the number 2.


"The state issues a marriage license to any two people who are of age, of the opposite sex and consent. How is that not equal and objective?"

It is equal and objective. However, I'd argue it's the incorrect criteria for acknowledging marriage.

It turns out also that a law that bans homosexual activity is equal and objective. Everyone can engage in sexual relations, as long as it is not among members of the same sex. Equal and objective criteria don't always advance liberty. But then again, the issue of gay marriage is not as important as other liberty issues.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 2:59 PM  

IM2LA44 said:

"The reason ethical principles exist at all is because the concept of right and wrong is made inherently available in God's creation through the faculty of moral intuition. Given man's natural tendency toward capriciousness, if morality was fundamentally arbitrary, it would have remained forever incoherent."

This theory ignores man's seemingly inherent self preservation instinct. I think its at least fair to entertain the possibility that the most basic and common moral imperatives that we see across time and place advance survival desires.

Blogger WATYF September 10, 2012 3:00 PM  

George said: They are admirable for having to determine for themselves, just like non-believers, what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral, without the aid of a god...despite what they claim. Before making practical application of the Divine Command theory, mustn't you first determine which god is divine and which is not? Mustn't you first in some cases first determine which version of a specific divinity is the correct version?

How fortuitous.... some atheist just used this logical fallacy the other day on this very website. I guess I can just copy and paste my previous reply here:

This argument fails in several ways.

1) It assumes that people choose religions based on the moral worldview that they "subjectively" want to adhere to. This may come as a shock, but many religious adherents choose their religion based on evidence and then adhere to whatever moral system comes along with it despite any difficulty that may accompany that decision.

2) Previously to selecting a moral system, an individual has no means by which to determine if elements from various moral systems are "moral". You can't look at Christianity and Islam and Judaism and Buddhism (et al) and evaluate the "moral" parts of those systems unless you already have a system of morality by which to judge them. As usual, this approach is classic Question Begging (as that is the only way that an atheist can ever arrive at anything that they call "moral").

3) Most importantly, the whole argument is irrelevant because it's trying to avoid addressing the nature of the moral system by instead focusing on the fact that the moral system was "chosen". Even if we grant that the choice of a pre-packaged moral system was done subjectively, the system itself would still be objective (if, indeed, it was true), and the alternative (atheist self-created moral system) would still be a bunch of subjective and meaningless nonsense. In other words, even if I pick my moral system by flipping a coin, as long as that coin happens to select the moral system that is based on an actual Creator, then it would be an objective system and the means of selection wouldn't matter.

Mustn't you then apply an analytical eye to the various commands made by the divinity you've determined is true to apply some of the more general commands to moral questions not specifically addressed by the God you've chosen to follow.

This assumes that there are moral questions that somehow aren't addressed by the God you've chosen.

And mustn't you, in all of this, apply principles of your own choosing to make these determinations?

This isn't even remotely equal to what an atheist has to do. Logically extrapolating based on a fixed principle is in no way related to making up the principles ex nihilo.

WATYF

Anonymous VD September 10, 2012 3:03 PM  

My claim is simple: one must make some sort of principle determination before murdering or not murdering. This is unquestionably true.

That isn't the contention you made earlier. You know, the one that I just showed you was completely wrong. You're not so much moving the goalposts as switching sports without recognizing that you've done so.

This claim is false too. One can simply murder someone else because he didn't open the cash register fast enough. That doesn't establish or require a principle.

Blogger James Dixon September 10, 2012 3:04 PM  

> I'd argue that many parts of Christianity are, as you you say, not just a force for good, but a monumental force for good. Just not all of them.

Ah, but how can you determine which are and which aren't without risking completely dismantling that "monumental force for good"?

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 3:06 PM  

VD:

My contention was this:

"believers are required to determine their own ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands"

It's the same.

Why did the murder use the slow opening of the cash register as as a reason to murder?

Blogger WATYF September 10, 2012 3:15 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger IM2L844 September 10, 2012 3:18 PM  

This theory ignores man's seemingly inherent self preservation instinct.

It does no such thing. Those morals made inherently available in God's creation specifically provide for not only the individual desire for self preservation, but the altruistic desire for the protection and perseverance of mankind in general.

Blogger WATYF September 10, 2012 3:20 PM  

George said: This theory ignores man's seemingly inherent self preservation instinct. I think its at least fair to entertain the possibility that the most basic and common moral imperatives that we see across time and place advance survival desires.

What evidence is there that "self preservation" and "morality" are complementary objectives?

We would surely have a better chance of surviving as a species (in the long term) if we killed off all of the weaker humans and kept all of our possessions for ourselves to make sure anyone who couldn't hack it would die out.

And I dare say you would argue that courage is "moral", and yet it is not the least bit "self preserving".

WATYF

Anonymous JP (real one) September 10, 2012 3:20 PM  

"But then again, the issue of gay marriage is not as important as other liberty issues."

Wait, an Obama-Bot is worried about liberty? Did you miss out on your Sugar Daddy's attacks on the Bill of Rights...and his constant attacks and ridicule of economic libert?

Anonymous JP (real one) September 10, 2012 3:21 PM  

liberty?

Blogger Nate September 10, 2012 3:26 PM  

"Why did the murder use the slow opening of the cash register as as a reason to murder?"

I've said it before... but one of the hardest things for people to accept is the terrifying notion that everyone is not like them.

You see George... the murderer may not have had a reason at all. There was no way. There was no thought at all. Just impulse.

Now I realize that you probably cant imagine such a thing... never the less... many people live their whole lives acting on nothing but impulse.

Anonymous JartStar September 10, 2012 3:44 PM  

Why did the murder use the slow opening of the cash register as as a reason to murder?

It doesn't have to be an ethical principal. The fact that it doesn't nukes your argument.

Anonymous VD September 10, 2012 4:01 PM  

"my contention [is] that believers are required to determine their own ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands"

Is not this:

"My claim is simple: one must make some sort of principle determination before murdering or not murdering."

You are wrong. It is not the same. The act is not the same as the claim to have acted in accordance with with God's commands.

The remarkable thing about you, George, is that being shown to be completely wrong doesn't slow you down in the slightest. Your thoughtless pigheadedness is almost admirable in an aesthetic sense. I think Aristotle must have had someone very much like you in mind when he described those who cannot learn from dialectic.

You're like a walking, talking object lesson in Aristotle.

Anonymous Cliftonb September 10, 2012 5:40 PM  

What exactly is divine command theory? I've never heard of it.

Anonymous DrTorch September 10, 2012 5:54 PM  

You left out Solomon

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 6:22 PM  

IML2 wrote:

"It does no such thing. Those morals made inherently available in God's creation specifically provide for not only the individual desire for self preservation, but the altruistic desire for the protection and perseverance of mankind in general."

Is there a way to present this contention free of the notion of god? Or, put another way, could an atheist express a very similar idea?

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 6:24 PM  

JP wrote:

"Wait, an Obama-Bot is worried about liberty? Did you miss out on your Sugar Daddy's attacks on the Bill of Rights...?"

I did. Please explain.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 6:26 PM  

WATYF said:

"You see George... the murderer may not have had a reason at all. There was no way. There was no thought at all. Just impulse."

I rather doubt this. Instead, I think at some point earlier, perhaps much earlier, something led the murderer to determine that murder was not off the moral table. He did, afterall, have to decide whether to bring a gun with him.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 6:37 PM  

VD wrote:

"You are wrong. It is not the same. The act is not the same as the claim to have acted in accordance with with God's commands."

You seem to not want to address the claim that I'm making, but rather build another claim and attribute it to me. That's fine. It just doesn't work well in a discussion.

There are ethical determinations made by the believer concerning the righteousness of God's commands before the believer claims God's commands as righteous and worthy of being followed.

As a non believer, I can sit back and agree with you that my determination that murder is in line with God's command. This might strike me as coincidental, as a result of a dominant culture or as insignificant. But you are right, that I must declare that my anti-murder stand is in line with God's command...as well as other Gods' commands, as well as other secular moral standards.

But the believer who takes God's commands as righteous and moral because they are God's commands must first determine that they are commands worthy of following. There is a determination in this process that comes before decision to adhere to the Divine Command Theory.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 6:38 PM  

Jarstar wrote:

"It doesn't have to be an ethical principal. The fact that it doesn't nukes your argument."

There is a value judgement made somewhere along the line.

Blogger Spacebunny September 10, 2012 6:58 PM  

It's like he's punching himself in the head. Repeatedly.

Anonymous VD September 10, 2012 7:00 PM  

You seem to not want to address the claim that I'm making, but rather build another claim and attribute it to me. That's fine. It just doesn't work well in a discussion.

They're both direct quotes, George. From you. You can't even recognize your own assertions.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 7:12 PM  

VD:

Again, you need only examine the claim I'm making to see that you are mistaken.

My contention, as quoted by you was: "believers are required to determine their own ethical principles before proclaiming to obey God's commands"

The determination of principle comes before the act that they can claim is in accordance with God's command, whether believers or not.

You have, in response, asked me: "Do you seriously claim that you cannot claim to have obeyed that command without first determining your own ethical principles?"

The answer is absolutely.

The term "obeyed" suggests (in our discussion) an action of moral consequence that has occurred. That's why it's in the past tense. Whether the action is in accordance with God's commands or not, has nothing to do with whether the actor is a believer or not. It either is or is not in accordance with God's commands. But this is irrelevant to the fact that some sort of principled or moral thought had to have gone into the action, which then can be determined to be or not be in accordance with God's command.


Anonymous George September 10, 2012 7:13 PM  

SpaceBunny said:

"It's like he's punching himself in the head. Repeatedly."

Okey dokey.

Anonymous Boeatin September 10, 2012 7:35 PM  

Cliftonb:
"What exactly is divine command theory? I've never heard of it."

Don't you wish there was an interconnected web of computers and servers that would allow someone to research such a question? Maybe if that day comes, someone will even invent a search engine to make it easier or even a free online encyclopedia. Maybe some day...

Blogger IM2L844 September 10, 2012 8:06 PM  

Is there a way to present this contention free of the notion of god? Or, put another way, could an atheist express a very similar idea?

Let's call it intuition. Intuition is a level above instinct, but does not rise to the level of formal or informal logic. That is it doesn't require the sort of deliberation process you seem to insist is required to determine some set of ethical principles followed by weighing those principles against probable outcomes of certain actions and then acting accordingly. Moral intuition doesn't require any sort of parsing prior to decision making. You just know without having been taught. Of course, you always have the free will to disregard those intuitions and act according to more selfish or simple gratuitous motivations.

Anonymous Logan September 10, 2012 8:08 PM  

I don't believe Thomas Aquinas was a Divine Command Theorist. He subscribed to Natural Law theory.

Anonymous Edjamacator September 10, 2012 8:48 PM  


But the believer who takes God's commands as righteous and moral because they are God's commands must first determine that they are commands worthy of following. There is a determination in this process that comes before decision to adhere to the Divine Command Theory.


Hardly.

New believer: "What does God say about murder? I don't really care either way but am curious as to what He thinks about it."

Older believer: "He's against it. Don't do it. I know you have before and have shown no regret, but God says not to do it."

New believer: "Ok, well, since I know God rules and I don't want God to punish me, I'll stop."

All a person has to do is believe that God doesn't want them to do something and if their devotion is high enough, they won't even bother wondering whether the command is "moral" or not. They'll do it out of respect, fear, love, or whatever other desire makes them want to follow the rules God has set up.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 8:53 PM  

Edjamactor said:

"All a person has to do is believe that God doesn't want them to do something and if their devotion is high enough, they won't even bother wondering whether the command is "moral" or not."

OK....But by what process does one come to conclude that belief in God, and hence not wondering whether his command is even moral but merely following it, is the correct stance?

Anonymous Edjamacator September 10, 2012 9:01 PM  

OK....But by what process does one come to conclude that belief in God, and hence not wondering whether his command is even moral but merely following it, is the correct stance?

Depends on the person. There's no one way that everyone decides on who "God" is.

Most people learn about him from others, but then can always alter their belief or confirm it as they live their lives.

My reading of the Bible tells me God calls those who will accept Him, so He brings them to Himself as no human seeks him out on his or her own.

Why does an Arab become a Christian knowing it could cost him his head in a land of Muslims? I don't know. I'm not that Arab. Heck, Christianity is the only religion I'm familiar with where it actually goes against human nature whereas others please most aspects of human nature, making Christianity a religion that should be rejected more often.

People are different, and either they come to God because God draws them or, for argument's sake, they come to Him on their own, but that would be in many varied ways. I can't narrow it down as I can't read everyone's mind.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 9:01 PM  

IM2L8 said:

"You just know without having been taught."

I'm sure there have been studies and research done on this, but not being aware of them I wonder what specific items that seem to flow from moral intuition are present in the youngest of children? Does a 2 year old intuitively know that taking another person's stuff is immoral? My own survey of 2 year olds suggest not. Nor do they necessarily know another seemingly obvious item of the moral intuition: not beating on a weaker being for the sake of beating on a weaker being. Again, I know some dogs that have experienced this problematic moral situation when in the presence of two year olds.

I wonder if access to one's moral intuition requires the ability to reason before that intuition can be properly applied.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 9:04 PM  

Edjumacator said:

"People are different, and either they come to God because God draws them or, for argument's sake, they come to Him on their own, but that would be in many varied ways."

I think you are clearly right that people come to be believers in a number of different ways. But I think that even those who feel "called" or "drawn" must measure that feeling or calling against what they know or what they already believe or against what they believe is right. There's some analytical thinking going on there that require values to already be in place....before they decide to give over their moral autonomy to a god.

Blogger James Dixon September 10, 2012 9:19 PM  

> Or, put another way, could an atheist express a very similar idea?

They could, yes. But why would they?

> But the believer who takes God's commands as righteous and moral because they are God's commands must first determine that they are commands worthy of following.

No. All can instead determine that God has the authority and understanding to determine righeousness and morality.

To put it simply, who better to tell us our operating parameters than our designer?

> There is a value judgement made somewhere along the line.

What part of Nate's "that everyone is not like them" post did you not understand? The fact that you make such judgments doesn't mean everyone does.

Blogger James Dixon September 10, 2012 9:20 PM  

All --> He. My typing still manages to amaze me on occasion.

Anonymous George September 10, 2012 9:40 PM  

James:

There is a value-laden decision that occurs before one chooses to relinquish their moral autonomy to an Iron Age god. And it seems everyone who becomes a believer encounters this decision point in one way or another. Further, choosing the process of making that decision requires the consequences of the decision to be weighed by using some set of values the person feels or felt comfortable embracing.

Put another way, the process by which a believer goes about embracing a particular set of values (christian, for example) is no different than the process and non believer goes through in embracing their chosen set of values/morals/ethics.

To put it another way, you wrote:

"No. He can instead determine that God has the authority and understanding to determine righeousness and morality"

How would he make that determination?

Blogger Ted Walther September 10, 2012 9:43 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Tiger September 10, 2012 9:43 PM  

QUOTE Vox
Really? How does agreeing with Thomas Aquinas on Divine Command Theory somehow imply that I am dishonest?
ENDQUOTE

VD, please delete my comments on this topic. I see that I construed your statements (possibly) more broadly than you intended, and definitely construed the essential part opposite to what you intended. You quoted George as being opposed to Divine Command theory; I parsed it initially as you being opposed to it.

Blogger James Dixon September 10, 2012 10:21 PM  

> There is a value-laden decision that occurs before one chooses to relinquish their moral autonomy to an Iron Age god.

Actually, I think it would be more correct to state Bronze Age god. However, the decision as to whether the Christian God is our creator is not necessarily a value based one,

> How would he make that determination?

The most basic way would be to determine if he believed in the resurrection of Christ or not. That is, after all, the fundamental claim of Christianity. The ways that can be determined vary so much by individual that it's pretty much pointless to try to categorize them here.

Anonymous oregon mouse September 10, 2012 11:37 PM  

I'll take your denigration of western civilization and raise you one "peanut butter and jelly as an example of white priviledge" by a Portland elementary school principal.

http://portlandtribune.com/pt-rss/9-news/114604-schools-beat-the-drum-for-equity

Blogger IM2L844 September 10, 2012 11:42 PM  

I wonder if access to one's moral intuition requires the ability to reason before that intuition can be properly applied.

This is getting off track. I think I see what you're getting at, but I'll answer anyway.

This is just my personal opinion, but it seems to me that it would be rather pointless for God to imbue someones sub-conscious with His ethical principles if they lacked the maturity or the capacity to comprehend that their actions might be contrary to those imbued intuitions. That kind of reasoning, however, is still not the same kind of reasoning required for man to develop and implement a complete set of ethical principles.

I doubt that a 2 year old would have the capacity to understand. A 12 year old? I don't know...maybe. I suspect God has the ability to tailor the experience to the individual's circumstance.

I don't think it's a one size fits all type of thing, but something more fair and balanced with everything taken into consideration.

Blogger Nate September 10, 2012 11:55 PM  

George...

Come on man... he decided to bring the gun with him... because he ALWAYS brings a gun with him. his thought processes.. "gun? yes." there is no "why?" there is no "what if?" its not there.

Accept it. everyone in the world is NOT like you.

Anonymous Outlaw X September 11, 2012 12:37 AM  

A Lazy mind is one that claims to be open never realizing that it has always been closed while chanting cliques thinking that my mind is open while being too lazy to logically analyze the clique and at the same time failing to realize "an open mind" is the ultimate clique.

Once one accepts this idea his mind is closed.

Anonymous Cliftonb September 11, 2012 1:00 AM  

Boeatin, September 10, 2012 7:35 PM

Don't you wish there was an interconnected web of computers and servers that would allow someone to research such a question? Maybe if that day comes, someone will even invent a search engine to make it easier or even a free online encyclopedia. Maybe some day...

Yeah! And on that day the sound of the cosmic gamma-ray background will top the pop charts and we'll all dress up like the theory of relativity and pedal our space big-wheels to New Jersey!

That was sarcasm by the way.

As for the question I thought that one of the people here who knew enough about the theory to debate the finer points of it would give a better and more concise definition that a Wiki entry or some long treatise on the subject.

Anonymous pdimov September 11, 2012 5:53 AM  

George:

OK....But by what process does one come to conclude that belief in God, and hence not wondering whether his command is even moral but merely following it, is the correct stance?

George... God is the highest moral authority by definition. You can't both believe and retain "moral autonomy" - this requires you to recognize a higher moral authority that overrides God. This higher moral authority is your god then.

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 11, 2012 9:30 AM  

Iron Age god
Bronze Age

I confess to not understanding why the historical period in which a concept allegedly took hold makes it valid or not.

(That's rhetorical. I know why people think like that; I'm just making a point.)

Blogger James Dixon September 11, 2012 11:51 AM  

> I confess to not understanding why the historical period in which a concept allegedly took hold makes it valid or not.

It doesn't. But if someone can't even be bothered to get the age of a concept right, what does that tell you about their judgement on the subject?

Anonymous Edjamacator September 11, 2012 12:14 PM  

But I think that even those who feel "called" or "drawn" must measure that feeling or calling against what they know or what they already believe or against what they believe is right. There's some analytical thinking going on there that require values to already be in place....before they decide to give over their moral autonomy to a god.

YOU might think that. However, for the most part, I think instead of people wondering if God is "right" (how you mean) they would first wonder if God is "true."

You seem to think a person might think "hey, this God I feel calling me may be morally right about some things, but let me check it out first." Whereas I think that for the most part (again, as I can't read minds) people will first think "hey, this God I feel calling me....is He true?" Morality would come afterwards.

Anonymous Athor Pel September 11, 2012 1:40 PM  

" Nate September 10, 2012 3:26 PM

... There was no thought at all. Just impulse.

Now I realize that you probably cant imagine such a thing... never the less... many people live their whole lives acting on nothing but impulse.
"



I've had glimpses of this. 95% of my life is free from these perverse impulses. 90% of the impulses I ignore, it's too much trouble in the long run, those pesky consequences you know. From time to time I listen to the little imp. Talk about an adrenaline rush. It's probably why some people live their life by it.

Of course it might also be that they genuinely don't have the mental horsepower to do anything else. One of the few times I feel envy and pity at the same time is for people like this.


Anonymous George September 11, 2012 2:19 PM  

"people will first think "hey, this God I feel calling me....is He true?" Morality would come afterwards."

Even this kind of thinking requires a value equation and reasoning to come into play...just like non-believers think when they evaluate their moral framework.

Blogger James Dixon September 11, 2012 3:23 PM  

> Even this kind of thinking requires a value equation and reasoning to come into play

True or false does not require a value equation George. It may or may not require reasoning, depending on the nature of the proof provided.

Anonymous Edjamacator September 11, 2012 4:02 PM  

Even this kind of thinking requires a value equation and reasoning to come into play...just like non-believers think when they evaluate their moral framework.

Ok, so how exactly does the concept of right and wrong determine whether or not something exists in the real world or to an individual or group?

Anonymous George September 11, 2012 4:08 PM  

James wrote:

"True or false does not require a value equation George. It may or may not require reasoning, depending on the nature of the proof provided."

Well, first I don't think it's as simple as "true or false". Second, the decision to believe surely requires some sort of reasoning. And I dont' think that reasoning is so simple.

Blogger James Dixon September 11, 2012 4:23 PM  

> Well, first I don't think it's as simple as "true or false".

The creator God either exists or he doesn't. That's as pretty much true or false as you can get.

> Second, the decision to believe surely requires some sort of reasoning. And I dont' think that reasoning is so simple.

Do you need to reason to believe that you saw the sunrise this morning? Some proofs are so self evident that they don't require reasoning.

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